Coast Guard rescues injured fisherman from rocks near Dog Island during tropical storm Earl

According to the rescue commander, the storm made the rescue challenging, with 'heavy seas, gusty winds, and low visibility'

Coast Guard rescues injured fisherman from rocks near Dog Island during tropical storm Earl
Screenshots showing the rescue operation (Twitter/ @USCGSoutheast)
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SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The Coast Guard saved the life of a fisherman on Sunday, September 4, after he got stuck on rocks just off Dog Island, US Virgin Islands. The MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter aircrew reportedly carried out the operation after the unidentified man, believed to be more than 50 years old, went with his fishing boat in the water to spearfish when the waves began to escalate, injuring him.

To save his life, the fisherman reportedly went above the jagged rocks while his friend, who was aboard a 26-foot Grady White vessel, called 911. The St Thomas 911 emergency dispatch operator then informed Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan, and a Boat Forces St Thomas 33-foot Special Purpose Craft was dispatched along with the MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen to rescue the man.

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The Coast Guard News reported that the “boat crew attempted to pass a heaving line to the injured fisherman but the crashing waves prevented the crew from getting close enough to reach him. The Coast Guard helicopter then moved in and deployed the aircraft rescue swimmer who used a harness to secure and hoist the survivor from the rocks.”

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The helicopter then landed at Cyril E King airport in St Thomas before the fisherman was rushed to the Schneider Regional Medical Center. After the operation, Lt Shea Smith, Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft commander for the event, said, “This was a challenging case in a tropical storm with heavy seas, gusty winds, and low visibility, but this is what the Coast Guard trains for. I’m proud of the crew, everyone came together as a team to safely and efficiently execute the mission. Fortunately, the survivor was able to hang on until we could arrive and we are all glad that he is safe.”

The video of the rescue operation has been shared on the internet as well, with people praising the officials. A user tweeted, “All I could focus on is the true cumpass on the boat! Love to see it in an electronic age. #Boatforces.” Another wrote, “YAY TEAM!  Coasties RULE!!!!  💪” Someone added, “Nice work Coasties. Thank you for your service.” “Unbelievable job Coast Guard! What kind of a moron will go spearfishing in that weather? Use your head,” another chimed in.

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This comes a month after an elderly French sailor survived in the Atlantic Ocean for more than 12 hours after his 40-foot long boat, named the Jeanne SOLO Sailor, swamped with water. The man’s name was not revealed at the time of reporting but it was said that he was 62 years old. 

When the rescuers reached the scene and checked for signs of life, the brave man knocked from the inside of the ship's hull. The next morning, the man, who was wearing a neoprene survival suit, was taken out. Spain's Maritime Safety and Rescue Society said, “Each life saved is our greatest reward.” Vicente Cobelo, a member of the coast guard's special operations, added, “Of his own initiative, he got into the water and freedived out, helped by the divers who had to pull him through because it was difficult for him to get out in his suit.”

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